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How to Select the Best Heating and Cooling Trade School Near Selma Alabama

Selma Alabama commercial hvac contractor servicing furnacesNow that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning professional, the next action is to locate an HVAC technical school near Selma AL. But with so many to pick from, how do you decide on the best one to obtain the training that you need? Some future students will make their selection based entirely on the cost of tuition or how close the school is to their home. Even though these are relevant considerations, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other things that you need to investigate are the graduation completion rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. These and other criteria will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we discuss how to choose an HVAC vocational school, let's take a look at what a heating and a/c specialist does to become a licensed skilled tradesman.

HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs

Selma Alabama home A/C condensers

There are several choices available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor's Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the minimum period of time, usually achieved in just six months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for the majority of HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification appropriate to the position. The degree training programs may provide a competitive advantage for securing employment and will deliver more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Following is a brief description of each option offered near Selma Al.

  • Certificate. Normally requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among entry level residential or commercial HVAC professionals. They provide a strong foundation of skills for employment within the trade.
  • Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program supplies a more comprehensive knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Generally taking 2 years to finish, a number of degrees feature an internship or work-study program.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor's Degree in HVAC is suited more towards a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs call for an Associate Degree, while others are a standard four year program. In addition to learning how to service and maintain heating and cooling systems, you will also study how to design them.

Selecting the appropriate credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, together with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One possibility is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after getting some experience in the field in Selma AL, subsequently returning to obtain a Bachelor's Degree. If this is your tactic, make certain to ask the HVAC technician school you are considering about how their returning student program works.

HVAC Courses Online

Selma Alabama forced air heat registerChoosing an HVAC school online is one possibility to obtaining your training and earning a certificate or degree. Nearly all schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in practical training. Many also offer internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes can be attended online, this approach may be a more convenient solution for many Selma AL students that are pressed for time. And some online degree programs are less expensive than other traditional options. Even driving expenses from Selma and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family obligations have left you with little time to attend classes, maybe an HVAC online training program will make it easier to accommodate school into your busy schedule.

Heating and Cooling Licensing and Certification

HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the industry that stands for "Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning". HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, repair and maintenance of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally required to be licensed, though each state and regional municipality has its own criteria. Obtaining professional certification is not mandatory, but an alternative way for Selma AL HVAC technicians to demonstrate that they are exceptionally qualified and accomplished in their area of expertise. There are many recognized certifications within the industry that are available. Here are a few of the important ones.

  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is earned by passing a proficiency examination and may be acquired in one or more specialties.
  • HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience together with passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists need to have three years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in several specialties.
  • EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that handle refrigerants. There are 3 types of certification obtainable, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.

Since licensing might be mandated in your area, and you may also wish to acquire certification, it's essential that you enroll in an HVAC vocational school that will prepare you for both. And since you will more than likely be dealing with refrigerants, make certain that the program you pick preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.

Questions For Heating and Cooling Training Programs

Selma Alabama hvac contractor installing hot water heater

Once you have chosen the type of degree or certificate that you would like to obtain, either on campus or online, you can begin to limit your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Selma AL area and across the USA to pick from. That's why it is essential to have a checklist of important qualifiers when making school evaluations. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will most likely be the first 2 factors you will look at. Following are several additional ones that you should investigate before enrolling in your school of choice.

Accreditation.  A large number of HVAC trade programs in the Selma AL area have acquired either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, such as HVAC technology. Make sure that the program and school are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, which includes the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a superior education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are in many cases unavailable for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training course be accredited in order to qualify for licensing.

High Completion Rates.  Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the program. A lower completion rate may indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to utilize for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only affirm that the school has a good reputation within the trade, but also that it has the network of Selma AL HVAC employers to help students secure apprenticeships or jobs.

Apprenticeship Programs.  Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating vocational and trade schools will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of Heating and Cooling companies or labor unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring relationships with local Selma AL HVAC companies. An apprenticeship not only provides a rewarding experience by supplying hands-on training, but it also furnishes employment opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local HVAC professional community.

Modern Facilities.  Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be using in the field. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, consult with the HVAC tech you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Selma AL HVAC company if they can give you some pointers. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are willing to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Selma AL home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be increased tuition fees compared to in-state residents.

Smaller Classes.   It's desirable that you receive as much individualized training as possible, which can be difficult in bigger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a couple of the classes so that you can observe how large they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and teachers. Speak with some of the students and get their feedback regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, talk to some of the teachers and learn what their level of expertise is and what degrees or certifications they have earned.

Flexible Scheduling.  Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are evaluating are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Selma AL, confirm that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Find Out More About Selma HVAC Vocational Schools

Earn Your HVAC Certificate or Degree

Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is an important beginning toward a gratifying career in the heating & cooling trade. As we have addressed in this post, you need to select an HVAC vocational school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the HVAC field. Other factors to search for are lots of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You should visit each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and speak with both the current students and faculty. Try to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial aid and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for assessing schools, you'll be able to narrow down your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the proper training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Selma AL.


 

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